Monday, September 01, 2003

Ashcroft locks print reporters out of news conference 

In Philadelphia, the city where the Declaration of Independence was crafted, the United States Constitution was written and the Bill of Rights drawn, Attorney General John Ashcroft decided only television newsfakers would be admitted to his so-called news conference at the National Constitution Center, no less, as part of his mission to get the American people to swallow the benefits of losing their freedoms to the USA PATRIOT Act* and PATRIOT Act II renamed -- make that misnamed -- the VICTORY Act**. No print reporters allowed!

Of course, the irony of this would escape Reichsfuehrer-SS Ashcroft, or as Howard Altman of the Philadelphia City News wrote, "Pens may no longer be as mighty as the camera, but apparently they make Ashcroft and his guardians squeamish." Right, TV will convey (report would also be a misnomer) only the 20 or so seconds approved by Ashcroft's goons. That eliminates worries about some print reporter pointing out all the apples on the cart are rotten, even if that story were buried in the back pages.

Altman, who was trotting behind a "flock of television reporters" was blocked by a Secret Service agent who told him, "You can't go in there."

When he protested, he received an apology of sorts from a bespectacled female guardian in a black dress (an appropriate color): "'I am sorry,' she says as the last of the camera crews whiz by. 'But he is not talking to print. Only talking to television.'"

Read the rest of Altman's article and weep.

*USA PATRIOT Act is an acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act. It has nothing to do with patriots or patriotism.

**VICTORY Act is an acronym for Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act. The only victory in the VICTORY Act, should it become law, is in the Bush administration's further erosion of our liberties.

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